Voice recognition technology ‘is merely a matter of time’

Voice-recognition technology will prevail in the future as advances make the technology more convenient to use, researchers and executives at a symposium in Tokyo agreed Monday.

If voice recognition becomes more commercially viable, people will be able to manipulate computers through words instead of keyboards, and speeches and lectures will instantly appear on computer screens through real-time dictation.

The commercial potential of such technology is evident in such fields as telemarketing, where it could save work for operators who take calls from shoppers and fill in sales slips, said Kenichi Ohmae, managing director of Ohmae & Associates.

Ohmae also said the technology would open the door to computers for people who have difficulty typing or operating other electronic devices.

The technology will also help close the so-called digital divide, according to Masao Sugimoto, vice president of Pioneer Electronic Corp. The divide refers to the numerical difference between people who have the means to enjoy the benefits of computers and the Internet and those who do not.

As an example, Sugimoto explained how the technology would allow for instant translations of televised news programs into text that would appear on TV screens, giving people with hearing disabilities access to up-to-date news.

Before the technology can be made viable, however, problems in accurately recognizing voices and discerning them from common background noise need to be overcome, some participants pointed out.

The symposium, held at a Tokyo hotel, attracted more than 300 people and was sponsored by the Ogasawara Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Engineering.